Is There Plain Old American Style Coffee In New Zealand Why Merlot Wines Are So Popular

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Why Merlot Wines Are So Popular

Merlot, or more precisely Merlot Noir (as Merlot Blanc exists) is quickly becoming one of the most popular red wines thanks to Bordeaux’s Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. It has almost cult status in California, where more concentrated Bordeaux-style wines are produced. It also grows in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and even South Africa.

Merlot is the most common grape variety in France and one of the most common in Bordeaux. This is a grape variety that has been actively spreading throughout the world over the last ten years. Merlot wines can be characterized as soft and rich with aromas of forest fruits and flavors of plum, black currant and petiole.

What makes Merlot so special?

  • It is adapted to most soils and tolerates wet, clay soils much better than Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • In the vineyard, it buds and flowers early, resulting in an earlier harvest.
  • This is a medium-sized high-yielding grape variety that requires quite intensive summer pruning. This is good from the point of view of winegrowers, but not necessarily in the eyes of wine lovers. Higher yields usually mean lower quality. Therefore, it is important to harvest grapes at optimal ripeness, otherwise varietal characteristics will be lost. Smart vintners will control yields to get extra quality.
  • It reacts very well to barrel oak aging. When the wine has been in oak for some time, notes of caramel, chocolate, coffee beans and vanilla will appear.
  • This is a very fruity wine with good body and low tannins, perfect for a single varietal. It also has great attractive properties for blending with more tannic wines. So the softness of Merlot helps to create a complex combination with the severity of Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Merlot matures in the bottle earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, so it does not need to be cellared to soften, unlike harder wines. This is what makes it attractive to many wine lovers who want to buy wine and drink it right away, rather than putting it off for a few years. We are not as patient as our ancestors – or perhaps we cannot afford to wait!

To avoid the main drawback – excessive yield, Merlot needs a relatively cool microclimate. Now it is grown in almost all wine-producing countries and is especially successful in California, Chile and Northern Italy.

What food goes well with Merlot?

The slightly firmer, fuller-flavoured Merlots go well with grilled and roasted meats – something like ‘Rosemary and Garlic Grilled Lamb’ would be good. Softer and fruitier Merlots from cooler climates pair well with salmon or mushroom-based dishes or even Spiced Duck Breasts. At the other end of the scale, a milder, light-bodied Merlot pairs well with shellfish like bacon-wrapped shrimp or scallops, or even straight pasta.

More about Merlot

A wine buyer, describing the success of Merlot, said:

“It fits right in with the popular modern drinking style because it makes wines with sweet, ripe fruit that are nice and soft.”

Janice Robinson of The Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition says:

“Merlot is now so popular around the world that it rivals only Cabernet Sauvignon as the most planted dark-skinned grape.”

One of Bordeaux’s most famous wines, Château Petrus, which almost always fetches over £500 a bottle, is made almost exclusively from Merlot.

The ideal serving temperature for Merlot is 63°F / 17°C.

Merlot is a versatile wine, and with the world’s growing vineyard acreage, we’ll see much more of this versatile grape.

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